The Detrimental Obsession with Rugby League Referees’ Decisions: Insights from Chris Kendall

“Referees’ Obsession” Detriment to Rugby League, Says Experienced Official

In a recent podcast episode, experienced rugby league referee Chris Kendall has addressed the “obsession” that fans often have with referees’ decisions, suggesting it is detrimental to the sport.

Kendall, who has been at the center of several controversies during his career, including his handling of the recent Challenge Cup final between Wigan and Warrington, appeared on the State of Mind Podcast, run by a charity that promotes mental health awareness in the sporting community.

“It’s not good for the game, it’s not good for recruitment and retention referees. Refereeing isn’t an attractive prospect now.”

Reflecting on the constant scrutiny and criticism referees face, Kendall expressed his belief that this “unhealthy obsession” is not unique to rugby league, but rather a symptom of any sport where decisions are subject to interpretation. He acknowledged that while referees’ calls may not always be objectively wrong, the pressure of making quick decisions under the gaze of players and fans can lead to contentious outcomes.

Kendall suggested that this unrelenting focus on referees’ performance is detrimental to the game, stating that it negatively impacts referees and the game in general. He argued that the sport should be able to encourage young players who may not make it as professionals to consider refereeing as a viable career path, but the current climate makes this a challenging proposition.

While Kendall did not believe referees should be exempt from criticism altogether, he emphasized that the “constant obsession” with officials’ decisions “negatively impacts us as referees and the game in general.”

The State of Mind charity, which promotes positive mental health within the sporting community, including among players, fans, and officials, aims to address issues such as the pressures faced by referees like Kendall.

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